Reflections by Jerry Webber

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Voices: A Rilke Poem

This piece of a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke introduces a section in his Book of Images that includes the "songs" of several groups Rilke saw as marginalized . . . The Song the Beggar Sings, The Song the Drunkard Sings, The Song the Widow Sings, The Song the Orphan Sings, The Song the Idiot Sings, and so on. . . .

The Voices

The rich and the happy can choose to keep silent,
no need to bid for attention.
But the desperate must reveal themselves,
must say: I am blind
or: I am going blind
or: It's not good for me here on Earth
or: My child is sick
or: I am not holding it together . . .

But when is that really enough?
So, lest people pass them by like objects,
sometimes they sing.

And sometimes their songs are beautiful.

[trans. by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows]

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